In a move blasted by rights groups, a 3-year-old-deaf boy has been told by his Nebraska school district to change the way he signs his name because the gesture resembles shooting a gun.
Hunter Spanjer uses the standard S.E.E., Signing Exact English. He crosses his index and middle fingers and waves them slightly to signify his name. And, Grand Island Public Schools’ policy forbids any “instrument” that “looks like a weapon,” reported NCN (see video above).
While crossing his fingers is a slight modification to the standard gesture, one meant to give it the personal touch, according to NCN, Hunter’s family is outraged by the district’s reaction.
“Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous,” Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue told NCN. “This is not threatening in any way.”
Hunter’s dad, Brian Spanjer, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday: “I feel like it was an overreach on their part and I expected a lot better from the local school district.”
Spanjer posted a letter on Facebook that the ACLU sent to the district “politely” asking it to reconsider policy.
Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, told HuffPost his organization was prepared to assist the Spanjers with legal action if necessary. “A name sign is the equivalent of a person’s name, and to prohibit a name sign is to prohibit a person’s name,” he wrote in an email.
Brian Spanjer has begun a Facebook page devoted to protesting the school’s action. “Absolute madness and blatant disability discrimination,” wrote Sheryl Booth.
Blogs have taken up Hunter’s cause as well. A commenter on Lenore Skenazy’s site Free-Range Kids asked, “Whatever happened to common sense and shared humanity, not to mention respecting the dignity of a 3 year old and his family?”
By Ron Dicker